|1. Wayne Gretzky, coach, Coyotes
He was the most dominant player in the history of the game. He became an omnipresent part owner of the Coyotes franchise, as well as a bombastic and somewhat controversial GM for Canada's Olympic/World Cup of Hockey squads. Next up on the agenda for 'The Great One' is coaching. Most people see failure in Gretzky's future as a bench boss, mainly because sports history suggests great players don't usually make great coaches. However, Gretzky may be an exception to the rule, since failure doesn't seem to be a part of his vocabulary.
2. Peter Forsberg, C, Flyers
Originally drafted by the Flyers (No. 6 overall in 1991), then later traded as part of the mega deal involving the Quebec Nordiques and Eric Lindros, there's a certain synergy involved with his return to Philly. In retrospect, Forsberg should have never been traded in the first place--since he alone has proven to be a greater NHL asset than Lindros. In nine seasons with Quebec/Colorado, Forsberg averaged more than a point per game every season. While he previously only played one season in the Eastern Conference (1995 with the Nordiques), Forsberg should adjust nicely.
3. Chris Pronger, D, Oilers
Pronger could be the poster child for the 'new' NHL era, following his trade from St. Louis. A stalwart defenseman and former team captain for a club used to spending a lot of money (the Blues), he was dealt to a club that was previously used to selling off assets instead of acquiring big-ticket items (the Oilers). Pronger will continue to log huge amounts of ice time in Edmonton, and will be an essential element on special teams. The Oil need him to become their best player.
4. Dany Heatley, LW/RW, Senators
The 'new' NHL is still about blockbuster trades, in case there was concern that the salary cap would completely eliminate the mega deal from the landscape. In fact, the league has rarely seen a trade involving two more talented players than Heatley and Marian Hossa. Officially, Heatley was acquired from Atlanta for Hossa and veteran defenseman Greg de Vries, but the latter was merely a salary throw-in. It will be years before the final chapter is written on the Heatley-Hossa debate, but the bottom line is that it was a deal both franchises had to make for various reasons.
5. Eric Lindros, C, Maple Leafs
Lindros had been rumored to be going to Toronto so often that fans had previously bought his jersey in great anticipation. Well, the wait is no more as the prodigal son has returned home to play for the Leafs. Both the franchise and Lindros are banking on the fact he'll have a little extra left in the tank while donning the Maple Leafs jersey night in and night out. He will always remain an injury risk until he hangs up the skates, but a risk worth taking if you're Toronto at this point.
6. Dominik Hasek, G, Senators
If the Senators had one concern during their remarkable string of successful seasons from 1996-04, it was their lack of a bona fide stud between the pipes. Enter Hasek, who's not what he used to be during his days with the Buffalo Sabres but won't need to be either. The Senators are loaded from top to bottom, and simply need Hasek's veteran presence when times start to get tough. There are no more excuses in the Canadian capital; it's Hasek or bust this time around.
7. Scott Niedermayer, D, Mighty Ducks
One of Brian Burke's first coups was being able to pry Niedermayer away from the New Jersey Devils. Having brother Rob Niedermayer already on the roster was perhaps the deciding factor for Scott, who gives the Ducks instant credibility as a contender in the Pacific Division. Niedermayer is no longer shackled by defensive systems or Eastern Conference mentality; he has free reign to roam free in Anaheim's system. Furthermore, he's the new team captain.
8. Paul Kariya, LW, Predators
Remember when Kariya was the most dangerous LW in the NHL? Nashville hopes those days are back. Kariya surprised many with his decision to sign with the Predators, but it shouldn't have been a big shocker at all. For one thing, the Preds are now full-fledged Central Division contenders. Also, Nashville's speed throughout the lineup should suit Kariya like a glove. While he may have been a bust in his only season in Colorado, Kariya is expected to thrive in Opryland.
9. Jeremy Roenick, C, Kings
With Peter Forsberg now in Philadelphia, somebody had to be moved in order for the Flyers to get back under the salary cap. Roenick was deemed expendable, mainly because Forsberg took over his old No. 1 center role. As a result, Roenick is now where he should have been all along--in Tinseltown. Nobody in the NHL is more 'Hollywood' than 'J.R. Superstar', but how much game does he have left? Is Roenick in L.A. for the off-ice benefits (spotlight, acting opportunities) of being there, or does he still have a lot of hockey left in him? Inquiring minds want to know.
10. Brian Burke, GM, Mighty Ducks
Burke has always done it his way, and that won't change in Southern California. Doing it his way includes revitalizing both the Ducks system on the ice and its fan base. Burke believes in high-tempo, in-your-face hockey--which is what he left behind in Vancouver. His teams will never trap, but they will drop the gloves plenty. Look for more goals to be scored in Anaheim than ever before, while their games will also feature plenty of intensity and emotion on the ice.